Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

Friday, May 31, 2013


You know when you look up at clouds that you can see shapes.  Yeah, bunnies, snowpeople, cars, South Dakota, airplaines...oh, wait...that was a real plane. 

It is called pareidolia and is one of my favorite brain curiosities.  It is when we see objects of shapes in otherwise unconnected objects.  Like clouds.  Like religious icons on french toast, or potato chips.  Like the face that the bathroom sink and faucet resemble.  Like vegetables that grow to resemble Richard Nixon...interesting metaphor that, and I am thinking of a particularly rude tomato I once saw.  Like that creepy and expensive new-ish teapot that looks like Hitler.  Oh...oh...oh, how can I forget the man in the moon!

Once you find the 'hidden object' it is not possible to un-see it. 

This one involves NASA, which provides me with my beloved Hubble.  Ah, the stories I could tell.

Anyway, enjoy, from the folk who gave us the face on Mars,

A short hour and I am feeling less twitchy.  Cool.


I am not exactly wiggling and twitching around, but I am awash in a vague sense of disquiet.  Although I no longer have any of the triggers (the things that happened in my other life), this week has left me with the same feelings of being in peril that I had when I knew that he was escalating in anger/behavior/general-ass-hat crap.

My metaphorical pit, the place where fears of impending danger takes up temporary residence and before I know it, has taken over a shelf in the closet.  I talked about it at therapy today.  This has been building for most of an otherwise great week.

I had a nice brush with nature; encountered a doe and her spotty, gangly-legged fawn, and a telephone call offering me a volunteer opportunity helping old folk like me when it comes time to decide what adjunct health insurance to get.

I think that my unease is partly because I am still waiting to hear if I was accepted into that training program and if I qualify for scholarship assistance.  I check my e-mail several times a day, but the chances that I will be notified of anything within the next two weeks is small.  Two more weeks to wait.  Man.  

I had a dream about one of my sisters two nights ago.  Very disturbing.  Her death eight years ago was difficult because we were very close, and I was the person to whom she came for support.  As the oldest sibling, that has happened often between all of us, which is what happens with the oldest.  In the dream she was angry with me, lots of yelling, screaming and exuberant gesturing of the not-so-great kind.  I was defending myself, without success.  I did not remember why we were arguing when I awoke, but when it came time for bed last night, the tenor of the dream still bothered me and I could not remember when she died.  Things like that, paperwork, mementos and more were lost last year, so I searched for her death notice on-line.  She died in February, but her birthday is four days after the deadline for when the training institution will notify me.

Family members and friends appearing in my dreams are rare, which makes this an interesting coincidence.   My dreams are unfailingly about resolving something, some issue on which I am working, some aspect of my life that gives me pause.  I let my dreams inform me as they want, not analyzing them much, so that makes this particular dream interesting.  Or, maybe it is holding my attention because of how unsettled I am feeling.

I came home and was starting dinner, spicy, stuffed Poblano peppers, and a batch of pumpkin bread, but I had let the ground beef expire.  Damn.  I hate wasting food and have been using everything up like a decently frugal person.  Hard boiled some eggs instead and the bread can wait until tomorrow.  My plans are to meet with my friends for breakfast and I am hoping that being with them will bump me out of this apprehension.

I am keeping busy; bought and laundered curtain fabric and have worked the soil for planting tomatoes, peppers and something else that I cannot remember right now.  I will buy those plant tomorrow on the way home.  Gardening and sewing, and maybe making bread, will surely help me feel better.  Any action is better than just moping around waiting for something icky to happen.

Nothing bad can happen to me anymore.  Sure, I have this groovy life now and I know that bad stuff can still make an appearance, but all of the old stuff is just history. There is no basis or cause for being so unsettled.  I guess old habits die hard.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Today I woke thinking that this was going to be a good day and that I should pay attention.

That has never happened to me.  Ever.  I usually just get up, groove a bit with CoolCat, shake the dream webs off with coffee (I make a damn fine cup) and a quick game of mahjong.  Then breakfast, washing dishes and different rooms...trowel on the makeup and get on with whatever has to be done.

I am just not one of those people who plan much.  I have a decent schedule, and I turn up where I am supposed to be, with what I need to have, and on time.  Sure, I always have in my head that I will do a kick-ass job, but daily plans or affirmations or something of that ilk, never.  Not once in my memory.  I always give my best and, really, that is enough.  What I do not do is any kind of daily plan or focus or anything anywhere within that realm.  It seems like overkill planning to me, and my thoughts are that if I start my day, or week, or whenever, with some predetermined focal point, that I will surely miss whatever delights and surprises and challenges the day might offer. 

It is part of trying to stay in my conscious as much as possible.  Living in the moment means that I am not invested in a plan and that I am open to whatever happens.  It is my preference and it works for me.

So, when that complete concept was in my mind, even before coffee, it actually gave me pause.  I thought, what the hell.  However, I also thought that I would pay careful attention, because what else would I do with such an unusual notion banging around in my noggin.

My first client was a no-show, and when I was at the Reference Desk to let them know that I was available for anyone who needed help, a man came up and I took him back to the bat cave.  He was extraordinarily challenging, and we did what we could, and he is coming back next week.  I saw his name on the schedule.

And, I thought that maybe he was the thing for which I was to watch.  I was wrong. 

First client of the afternoon nearly was asked to leave.  This was a day of firsts, because I have never been so close to refusing to work with someone.  This is a tricky circumstance for me.  The only criticism I have ever received at this job is that I am not firm enough with my clients, that I continue to work with people who should be escorted to the door.  I cannot do that.  People have to really, really prove to me that they are unable to do the work, and I will go to great lengths to make our work productive, even when my client is difficult.  That difficulty can be for any of a million reasons, but I figure that many of them end up with me because they have exhausted or ruined their other resources.  It seems wrong to just give up on difficult people.  However, there are exceptions.

If you fail to show up for your appointments, three times, you can no longer schedule appointments, but you can show up and I will take you if there is an empty appointment slot.

If you use racist or cultural comments and/or slurs, I will let you know that it is not allowed and if you continue, you get to go home.  Frankly, if you use any kind of dismissive or abusive terminology against anyone or any group, same consequences. The problem is that our working environment is very safe and supportive and sometimes people forget that they are not talking to someone who holds the same biases.  We come to an agreement and move on.  I have never had to end a session with anyone over this.

If you fail to take the necessary workshops or classes you need to find work, such as computer keyboarding, or anger management (yeah, happens), or whatever specific thing you need to take care of, then you can come back when you do what you are supposed to do.  This includes the clients that are sent to me via the legal or correctional systems.  Okey-dokey, hope to see you soon.

If you are rude to the Reference Librarians, even though you are stressed and vulnerable...and we totally get can sincerely apologize to them if you want to work with me.  Only one person has ever refused to apologize.  And, you know, maybe it is not my business to be the apology police, but civility and common courtesy have gotten lost somewhere, and someone has to do it.  Our Librarians take a stunning amount of crap from some of our patrons, and whilst they cannot say anything, when it involves people who want to work with me, I am perfectly happy to share with them that everyone deserves respect.  Everyone.

Afternoon client should have been asked to leave, but I just could not do it.  She is the most scattered person with whom I have ever worked.  Her issues are greater than simply needing a job, although there is nothing simple about employment issues.  She managed to collect her thoughts after a bit, and so I am willing to have her return.  We were not able to complete any of the documents she needs, and job searching on her own is somewhere in the future, but she took home the work I gave her and she made an appointment for next week.  I can only hope for the ability and patience to help her as much as possible.

I take seriously my responsibility to this work.  It means more to me than lots of other things that are supposed to hold more meaning.  I need to do this work as much as people need to have me help them.  That feels like bragging or, even worse, hubris, and maybe it is.  I suspect that I am too close to this to have much perspective.  The work that we do together is important to both of us.  I think, sometimes, that having me to simply listen whilst they get divest themselves

But, she was that thing for which I was supposed to pay attention.   I am glad that I was.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


I am so grateful for being able to start a new week, fresh from all of my stupidity last week.  Sometimes I wonder how many actual functioning brain cells I have.

Allrighty, I guess it was mostly that stupid phone stuff.  When I found that I had a defective minutes card it threw me totally off balance.  It was my own fault for waiting so long to add the minutes to my phone.  And, it is interesting to look back on those several days to see how panicked I was.    Even in the moment that was relatively easy to acknowledge, but I think my reaction is about so much more.

Poor customer service on the cell phone company's part aside, I was not able to step back and find the reasonable part of me that helps me to avoid acting like a crazy person most of the time, and particularly helps me with my clients.  I have to admit that helping others is so much easier than helping myself.  Same thing goes for standing up for someone else, but that is part of the entire construct, at least it is for me.

I can be an advocate for just about anyone else, but when it came to my own problem last week, well, I was a total fail.  Sure, the issue was resolved, but there was no part of my better-self, my higher intention or any connection with anything except for nearly hysterical panic.  Shame wanted to make me ignore the entire issue, but that feeling is always a pretty good indication that I should be writing and getting all of it out on the page.  So, that is what I did.  Externalized those fears in a way that has allowed me to analyze them and, hopefully, to learn from the experience instead of simply waiting for the next difficult situation to unnerve me.

Last week was a huge set-back in terms of crafting this new life.  Even whilst it was happening, I felt discouraged about how helpless I felt to just stop, take a couple of breaths and behave more, gosh, maybe calm or adult or reasonable or something.  But, I could not do that.  I was stuck in being fully invested in the panic and fear where my resources are concerned.  It is fair to say that I was completely irrational, not concerning the inability of the phone company employees to help me with their company's defective product, but in my ability to just calm the fuck down and come at this problem from a more helpful direction.

Unfortunately, I allowed my fears about my resources to take precedence over my decent nature and good sense.  When something like this happens with one of my clients I am the calm and collected person the situation or circumstance requires.  But, to do that, be that for myself seemed impossible once I was caught in the panic. 

That situation may well be the most important opportunity to learn about myself that I have had in a very long time.

The truth is that the conversations could have been less stressful for everyone involved, and may even have not had such a fair resolution, but it could have gone less productively, and I will never know, because my time machine is broken, again, and there is not going back to try it differently. 

It is my hope that the next time I am feeling vulnerable, that I will be able to recall this most recent problem and apply some of what I have learned from it.  I have been on the receiving side of customer dissatisfaction issues, a position that I find more comfortable.  Those things give me a chance to flex my problem and conflict resolution skills.  I find them challenging and energizing and have been fortunate to bring them to success.   

It is my hope that even if the problem does not move to good resolution for everyone involved, that the person or entity who is the catalyst to my distress will come away from our time together thinking that I am the nicest, most calm, most reasonable and decent person with whom they have had contact.  I am able to do that most of the time, although this recent situation was a trigger for all kinds of insecurities over which I still need to become master, and  because I am not even remotely proud of the person I was last week.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Well, the phone thing is fixed.  I faxed.  They fixed. 

I found a place yesterday afternoon, after mentoring and laundry.  I was on my way, quite out of my way, to the office supply store when I realized that we have a public-use fax machine at our library.

I am such a macaroon.

Around the block and back towards home. 

Today I was working with a client (at the same library where I faxed...I am a whole box of macaroons) when my phone made a noise.  Not sure what it is supposed to be, but it alerts me when a call comes in and I have muffled the ringer.  No, that is not right.  What the heck is that called?  I muted the phone.  Yeah.  The call was from the fone company and they left a voice mail.  I grabbed a pen and started to write the number they wanted me to call and gave me a code/extension number and said that I had two weeks before the code/extension number expired.

Unfortunately, I could only understand, even after three listens, the first three numbers and the code/extension number.  So, I did what any normal macaroon would do and I called the number that was on my caller I.D.

Thirty minutes, two disconnections and four people who I had trouble understanding later, I finally spoke to a woman who told me that they had restored the minutes for which I had paid.  I could barely hear her and she said that was because there was a problem with her phone and I asked if she could transfer me to someone else and she said that she could not and I am sitting there, images of the minutes rolling off somewhere and she finally asked me if there was anything else she could do for me and if I wanted to purchase more minutes.  Ummm, no.  She asked me why, and I am sitting there wondering what the heck is going on, why is she asking me when the the whole mess is about a defective minutes card.  In the first place.  Man.

So, by this time, that half-hour gone, I said no thank you.   And, then she tells me about how good their service is, and I am sitting there thinking the truth is that this sort of mess is a fluke, so I kind of get that she is trying to be nice to a customer who had a problem.  But, she would not quit and I struggled to understand what she was saying and between the connection and her accent, that was simply not going to happen.  Finally, I thanked her and she said "O.K." and the conversation was over and I disconnected.

A minute later my phone rang and it was the same fone company number, so I answered and it was a woman, I think, who said that we had been disconnected and I explained that it was fine, that I had finally connected with someone and it turned out to be the same, last woman who had not finished her sales pitch.  I said that was fine, but I was not interested.  She persisted and I told her that when my current balance of minutes was used, that I would probably be finding a new provider, and that we needed to end the conversation because all of this was eating up my minutes. 

So, she said that she was crediting my account with fifteen minutes to compensate and I thanked her and I said "good-bye" and she told me to have a nice day.  When I checked the minutes, she had credited me with fifty minutes and I nearly called back to correct it to the half hour and, well, I just gave up.  I get an extra half hour and they do not have to deal with me again.  I am certain that this makes them exponentially happier than I am. 

My life is so stupid. 

Except that I had wonderful clients today.  I can hardly express what a blessing these people are for me.  One is a man who comes most weeks and I help him use the computer and we have virtually exhausted the companies in our city that are hiring.  He has had many interviews, including three call-backs for interviews with the same company.  The job for which he applied was an in-house hire, but someone is looking at résumés, or passing his information to other departments, because the last two interviews were for different jobs with that company.  The interview was on Monday and they promised to contact him, one way or the other, within two weeks.

Were it in my power, he would be already working somewhere.  He is working harder at finding a job than anyone with whom I have worked.  He deserves to have a meaningful job.  There are so many people who deserve that, to be employed and able to take care of themselves and their families.  Man, they better hire him.

My work is so frustrating some days.  I spend time most days researching jobs here at home, because job listings change all the time, often within hours, and I stress that we might be missing a posting.  I pass them on via e-mail to my clients.  I am not saying that constant vigilance is going to make any kind of difference, but to work with people who happen to be unemployed of often just plain heartbreaking.  Another man this afternoon told me that last night he prayed that I would be a nice person.  He said that he had gone somewhere else and they were dismissive of him because of his inexperience using a computer and he thought it also had something to do with his age.

He is probably right.  Just makes me ill.  I am trying so hard tonight to not be sad and discouraged.  About anything.  CoolCat and I have a home.  Not much more than that, but we really have everything we absolutely need.  We are not homeless.  We have not experience a tornado or violence or extreme illness or disability.  I know how lucky we are, and I do not take anything for granted.  You know, I do not need to fix anything, but I would like to make a difference.  Most days.  I think I do that.  Most days.

I carry these people, this work home with me.  I try to avoid attachments to people and their problems, but sometimes the comparison with how they struggle and how good my life is shames me sometimes.  I do have balance and perspective, but there has to be some kind of solutions to all of this unemployment.  This stuff keeps me up at night. 

Monday, May 20, 2013


You know, if my life ever settles down and I run out of things about which to complain, well, I am not sure what I will do with all of that spare time.  Like, hours and hours each day.  Multiplied by weeks and years, man, that is a lot of time to fill.

In the meantime, I have one of those phones that you just keep adding minutes and then use them up and add more.  It is a great system, even when you fall on the ice, break your phone (was in my purse and it hit just right and ended up in pieces that could not be reassembled) and a couple, three, bones in your foot.

Replacing the phone was easy, including having the tech support people transfer my minutes and telephone number to the new phone.  Way cool.  I added minutes at that time because I was in the store and it was convenient and I just happened to have enough extra cash to do so.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a new minutes card and finally got around to adding the minutes to my phone.  Truthfully, it is only because I noticed that there were only 59 minutes remaining that I thought about it.  So, I united phone and card and scraped off the security code on the back.

Except, only 4 of the 20 numbers could be read.  What the frakkity-frak?  So, I found the contact number and called, explained my predicament and, 28 minutes later, the only way that they would consider helping any actual if I fax the front and back of the defective minutes card, the receipt, the serial number of the phone and my name.

I do not have a fax.  I do not have access to a fax, and I asked for some kind of alternative way to get that information to them.  E-mail?  No.  Send photocopies through the regular mail?  No.

So, I am off tomorrow to find a place to fax everything, the photocopies of those things as well as a letter to them.  I will not share the part of the letter that details yesterday's experience and my admiration for their tech support people and the supervisor to whom I spoke.

But, there is something that they do not understand or know about the majority of their customers.

I know that those folk are just like me, using that company's phone and minutes because they simply do not have any resources that would allow them to use a decent phone and plan.  We cannot afford a Jitterbug or Consumer Cellular product.  We cannot go to AT&T or USCellular or T-Mobile or Cricket or any other provider.

So, Trakfone, I would like to share some information with you.

Many of us: 
  • Have and use your phones because we cannot afford any other phone plans.
  • Lack the discretionary income to just buy minutes for our phones any old time we like.  We have to save our money in order to keep our phones filled.
  • The reason is that we lack the ordinary resources that ordinary people take for granted.  Even the most frugal among us have a little bit of cash that they do not have to stress about using.  Some of us who have income just over the upper limits for receiving social service support still need to have a phone.  Some of us are the chronically underemployed, are in recovery (bless their hearts) and/or are homeless and living in shelters or are using the resources they have to take care of other family members.  Another segment of your customers, and I am guessing that there are fewer of us than the other segments are people like me.  Women like me, who are survivors of domestic abuse, and who have little or nothing because what we have is just what we managed to grab as we fled our abusers.  For me that means a few clothes and my cat.  Surviving should be enough, I guess, but it not always is. 
  • Do not have facsimile machines, which is the actual name for fax machines, which I know because I have worked in businesses that use them.  We do not own them or have access to them, and I suspect that most of your customers do not have the extra cash to throw around on faxing fees, should they be fortunate to find one.
  • Your tech support woman, the one who told me that her best advice to me was to contact the store where I bought the minutes card and ask to return or exchange it for a minutes card that is not defective.  Shame.  Not for the lack of ability to help me, but for knowing that the minutes card could not be returned or exchanged because she knows all of your policies perfectly.  And, because I trusted her I did exactly that and called the store.
  • Cannot afford to waste the 23.01 minutes with your tech support people, which is partly my fault for asking twice to speak to someone who might be able to help me or help me find an alternative way to help myself.  We also cannot afford the extra 5.23 minutes on a cruel wild-goose-chase calling a store that your representative absolutely knows is unable to help me because if they want to sell your products they have to abide by your rules and policies.  All of which your tech support woman knew.
 So, tomorrow I will find someplace to fax all of this stuff to you, even if I have to go to the attorney office next door and beg to use their machine.  But, now that I have calmed down, I know that I will be able to find a shipping store or office supply or our library, or some place like that where I can spend more of the money I do not have to fax the information on the defective minutes card to you.

And, lest you think me unsympathetic to the fraud and loss-prevention issues experienced by companies, your included, I am not stupid or unsympathetic.  I have a retail and social service background and I am well aware of how some people will go out of their way to totally rip you off.

I also understand that you have absolutely no way of knowing that I am not one of those people, especially since the defective minutes card causing all of this angst is the most expensive one you sell.

But, you have to help me regain those minutes, because I simply cannot afford to lose the  $80.26, plus tax, I spent to get those 900 minutes that you have yet to decide if my documentation will change your mind about responsibly dealing with your defective minutes card.  I had to save to buy that card.

Of course, not all of that would fit on the single sheet of paper that carries my letter to them.  One page of letter, one page of photocopies of everything else is probably going to use up the rest of my cash for the week.  Actually, it will most likely cost me only $3-4, and I do have more cash than that.  All that really means is that I will be making salad dressing instead of buying a bottle of my favorite from the market.

But...but...but, this is about much more than my stupid phone and the not-stupid, but still unhelpful company who runs the plan.

This entire experience, all 28.24 minutes of it, has been a real eye-opener for me, a person who has held the belief that the past couple of years, decades truly, have opened my eyes as open as it is possible for eyes to be.

If I am struggling this much with my resources, then the difficulty and lack of help for others must be exponentially greater than I ever imagined.

What if you did not have enough money to put minutes in your phone until you were nearly out, and if you get a defective card like I did, you do not have enough minutes to call them or search around for a place to make photocopies and send faxes?
What if, like one of my clients last week, you finally get your food support card and go to the store, buy groceries and then have them stolen from another resident of the shelter where you live?
What if you are like the woman I see at the library and who I see walking past my flat on the days when I am home and happen to be looking out of or near a window and she catches my eye, and about whom I recently learned that she is cast out of her brother's house every day because she is developmentally disabled and his wife is tired of dealing with her when he is not here?

What about all of the people, just here in my community, who do not have a portion of the resources I have?  I struggle and I worry about paying my bills and my rent and buying enough food each month, without the extra stress of falling ill or needing to take CoolCat to the vet or when that piece of crap car breaks down again, but all of that is minor when compared to this city, full of people for whom life is a much greater worry.

 Even in the midst of the phone mess I had the awareness that this problem is not the end of my world, that I am so fortunate to have come away from my other life as well as I have and that I truly do not have anything about which I have any reason to complain.  Big picture, this phone mess is just a small inconvenience.  And, this is greatly informing me that I should be paying more and better attention to of more issues regarding the people I am trying to help at my library gig and the shelters.

This kind of thing touches and makes tremble an array and range of societal issues that may never be solved, but need the best of intentions and the best efforts of all of us if we are to have any sense of pride or responsibility or  connection to others in the place where we live.  I care about the whole world, I really do, it is just that the only difference I can make, am capable of making, is right here, where I live, with the people who enter my sphere of awareness.  And, hopefully my help should that be possible.

I find it amazing that something as relatively insignificant as the bother this phone is causing me just brings me back around, so circular in my experiences and how I continue to grow and survive.  It is not so much that I no longer feel alone, I feel connected.  Yeah, connected, something I never had the chance to be.  I like it.  It carries responsibility, but I like that, too.  I am pretty much like just about every part of this new life.

In a world of heartbreak and terrorism, disasters both intentional and natural, broken lives and families and spirits, I have a good life and it is in my best interest to not waste what I have and can share.

And, all it took was a defective minutes card to open my eyes, and more importantly, my heart.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

no to the third

I met some friends for coffee this morning.  Turned into breakfast, which was nice, except for the edge of my sleeve that kept dipping into the gravy on my biscuits.  Soggy sleeve, interesting art project on my blouse. 

One of my friends does not drive because owning a car is too expensive.  Very frugal, that girl.  She has a standard and sticks to it.  Another of her practices is that the rest of us get to drive her around.  So, anyway, eating is pretty much done, although there was still plenty of refreshing beverages to be enjoyed, and she asks who wants to take her on her errands today.  No one said anything.  Man.  I almost jumped in to offer, but then I realized that not answering, not saying yay or nay, is what the rest of them do, like all the time.  Those other magnificent babes have that sort of thing covered, and I never noticed it before, probably because I would do the whole jumping in and offering thing.  I am slightly less dumb than I was yesterday.

Thus encouraged, I decided to drive to Walmart, my favorite place to shop.  Low prices, nice people, and I get to drool over the art and crafts stuff.  So much fun.  I found the stuff I need and a nice set of oil pastels that I can pair with a great drawing pad for an end of the year gift for my mentee.  We have only three weeks left before school ends for the summer.  Sometimes we read together, sometimes we chat, but mostly we draw.  And, draw and draw and then do some more drawing.  My mentee is a sweetie and I love spending time together.  Oh, and the pastels was a big set for only $4.00.  Yay.

When I left the store, I was nearly struck by a car that popped into gear and backed up.  I jumped back, as did another woman with a cart, and she took off and I stepped back and to the side to wait for the guy to finish.  This part is funny.  He pulled partially out of his parking space and began to drive forward, directly towards me.  I moved out of the way and again stayed out of his way.  He again backed up and the other woman yelled at him, about how he did not even look before backing up.  He just stared at her and when he pulled alongside where I was waiting in a safety zone, he slowed down and screamed "bitch" at me as he pulled away.  Go, Speed Racer!  It is funny, and a happy ending as well, because I did not need to be scraped off of the parking lot and my tomato cages and mixing bowls did not get smashed.  Yay, tomato cages.

The best part is a couple of opportunities to say 'no' to devolving to bad behavior, crappy responses.  Just another way to say 'yes' to being a nice person.

I feel strong today.  I think that it is connected to taking the risk in sending off the application and all that.  I really want it, although I will not be knocked down if it does not work out.  I did my part and the rest is, well, I guess it is out of my hands now. 

It has been difficult to let go of anything from my other life, you know, stuff.  Part of that is that I came out of that life with not much stuff and it is just the teeniest bit uncomfortable or something using the couple of dishes and some towels that I have from then.  Even with a tight budget I am gradually getting rid of anything that holds memory.  I would not have thought that dishes and forks and spoons could have any sad memories attached, but they do.  Go figure.  I have not yet opened the boxes or tossed the old stuff, but I have new plates, bowls and flatware.  The dishes are clear glass and it was not until I brought them in the house that their clarity took on some significance.  Crazy.  Tomorrow, I guess that is today as it is nearly the time that I usually get up, the old crap goes into a box for the charity shop.  I seriously thought about tossing all of it, but it will not carry any bad mojo for whomever ends up with it.

When I got home, I had a nice conversation with the woman who lives in the back-flat with her sons.  We are both gardening here and we are going to share what we grow and maybe preserve some of the tomatoes at the end of the season.

Then, CoolCat and I sat out on the porch.  I read and he complained in his carrier.  Next trip out I will be getting a small crate so that he can see more, groove more, out there on the porch.  Yay.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


That has been my day.  Yesterday was great, so was Tuesday.  Monday was a doctor appointment...sucked.  But today was just plain weird.

I started the day with paying bills.  I have spent nearly every cent I have on legal fees, with absolutely no benefit.  Another $1500 today, but, really, who is counting.  Uh, me.  Also paid my Internet bill.  If it comes to having to cut something out of my budget, it will be the car, and not my connection.  I can take the bus or walk, but it is not possible to do work for my employment clients without having on-line access at home.  I love our library, but I cannot spend all day there.

Then, the car went all wonky again.  Not a big deal, but the left turn signal bulb blew and the police here are fond of giving tickets for non-working parts of your vehicle.  So, I went to the hardware store to buy a replacement bulb.  Before going inside, I looked in the owner's manual to find out what tools I would need.  They did not have the hex tool I needed, so I called my car guy friend to ask what other tool would work, and he told me to come over and he would help me.  So, I did.  Instead of helping me figure out what tool to buy, he said that he would take care of it.  I declined and said that I could do it myself.  He looked at the fastener and it was frozen here, like all corroded, and he said that he would do it for me.  I asked how much it would cost and he waved at me and said that it would not be much. 

So, I let him do it.  $38.00 later I left.  If I were capable of crying, I would have.  Subtract nearly forty bucks from my grocery budget.  I did manage to get everything I needed at the market, but, damn, that was not what I would call 'not much'.  Damn.  At least if the bulb fries again, the bolt is now loose enough so that I can replace it myself.

Monday's doctor appointment was distressing on so many levels.  I am way behind on regular health care, and my doctor is not happy about it.  Were all of the tests I need at low cost I would have them.  They are not.  I cannot.  She knows about what happened last year, so my reduced circumstances are no surprise to her, but she lectured me about being a non-compliant patient for not doing all of these tests.  Yeah, I get that I need them, but I just do not have the money.  When I shared that with her, she looked at me and said something like, after all this time, and now that your divorce is settled and you have your share of the resources, there is not any reason why you should be dragging your heels about this.

I explained that I do not have anything, that all of our resources were taken by my ex and that all I have is what I have.  She looked at me as though she did not believe that such a thing could be true.  She has shared how amicable her own divorce was (two doctors deciding that they had grown apart), and cannot quite accept that there are people for whom court orders mean nothing, except an opportunity to further abuse the person who dared to leave.  Yes, I am considered a bitch...and much my ex, and, quite frankly, having survived that marriage, it is a badge I wear with honor.  I think it is time to find a new doctor, someone in the city here.  It will make it easier for appointments when I have to let go of the car.

Staying as frugal as is my wont will take me only so far, probably until January or February, unless I find a job.  One that pays.  I already have enough, thank you very much, that are volunteer, and I am not grousing about them, I love all of the so freaking much, but it would be wonderful to have some income, a job where they like me and I get to provide benefit to them and they give me money for it.

That is not exactly true.  They do not have to like me.  Not a bit.  But, I will eventually win them over and do fabulous work for them and they will not mind so much that they have to pay me for it.

Anyway, therapy went well.  My therapist suggested some training a few weeks ago, and I finished the application and scholarship paperwork last night and dropped it at the post office this morning.  She keeps encouraging me to do this particular work, and if I get financial help, I can finish the training in a few months.  This qualifies me for work with agencies that receive governmental and grant help.  If it works out, I can finally find a job.  Most problems solved.  I am not sharing the particulars unless it actually happens.

The therapist that facilitates the mental health group is leaving for another job.  We will miss her, and the person replacing her seems fine.  One of the clients of the person who is leaving refuses to continue with the new therapist, but I guess that happens.  If I had to start with someone new, well, I would like to think that the work is more important than the people involved, but I am not sure.  You never know what you might do until you have to do something.

Marketing went well, all things money considered, and CoolCat and I are all set for the next week.  A nice long weekend, with no responsibilities, no appointments, no reason to leave our little home and plenty of great and healthy food, as well as some very nice fun food, and life is decidedly good.  Fabulous.  With any luck, I will not have to step outdoors, except to gather the mail, for four days.  Bliss.

Now, off to find a cookie.  Or several.  Well, maybe a cookie, then an apple, then wait a while for everything to settle before seeking another cookie. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

no - part two

Since last week I have had several opportunities to say 'no'.  I said 'yes' because I am spineless.

Three were over the weekend.  Fail.

One was yesterday.  A friend asked me to come over to have dinner with her, and, really, who am I to pass up a free meal.  I did not want to go, but I did because she has been talking about buying one of those sandwich grills for the past year, and when I was grocery shopping at Walmart I found one at a ridiculously low sale price.  So, I bought it for her a couple of weeks ago and yesterday's invitation was the perfect way to get it over there.

I got there and her daughter-in-law recently moved out and left some clothing behind.  So, my friend thought that I would like them.  They were fine, but seriously worn out and would have been too much work trying to repair them and remove all of the mystery stains.  So, I declined and went home, taking my gift with me because she bought one of her own just last week.  I get to try to return that to the store tomorrow after therapy and group.

Today brought two more chances to say 'no'.  I did decline, but not by saying anything. 

I have a pattern of doing or not doing for other people, and it quite distresses me to finally be aware of this.  When someone asks me for something, well, they do not actually ask for whatever it is they want.  They, and I pretty much mean every darn person I know, simply state a need and I jump in to volunteer.  I am not saying that is entirely bad, it is nice to help other people and all that jazz.  The problem is that I have trained people to get what they want without having to put it into words.  I listen and just agree to that unspoken request.

Seriously, how fucked up is that.  One of the library employees needs help with an on-line job application.  The first statement of need was about my schedule, to which I replied that it was full all day.  I did have an open appointment slot, but since he had not asked, I did not offer it to him. 

Later, that person came to my bat cave and repeated the need for this application help, shared that he did not have time to get to a computer until Friday and then just smiled and waited for me to volunteer.  I did not.  I did not say anything in reply.  He finally went away.

Now, were I being faithful to the concept and practice and assignment to actually say 'no', these would not qualify as successfully completing the task. 

However, it is a deliberate choice on my part to no longer volunteer for everyone's needs, crappy, selfish or not.  Not volunteering my services is a 'yes' to myself.  And, I will not have to come to work on my day off and help someone who has become accustomed to using me.

And, that is another issue.  If you allow/permit/train someone to take you for granted, misuse you even, then you cannot get all bent out of shape when they keep doing that.  I have set a standard for how someone can ask me to do something for them...huge change, as they have to put the request in the form of a request.  Crazy.  Additionally, in additon to the actual asking thing, there will be times when my response will be a well-considered, calm and inarguable 'no'.

Yay me.

Monday, May 13, 2013


I really, really, really dislike going to the doctor.  I hate being sick.  I have several long upper-respiratory things every year.  Mucus up the you know where.  Yes, nose, sinuses and lungs. 

Going there today was a pain.  I just hate all of it.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Behaving gracefully is what we do when we are doing our best, manifesting that inner person that we hold as our ideal self and who we hope we can always be.

Every day brings plenty of opportunities to choose who we want to be.  Life chips away at our ideal self.  It picks at any bit of us that can be reached with a sharp word, a look askance, a sneer, a criticism. 

How easy to just let it all go and avoid the struggle to be what other people, those you love and who love you, want you to be and what you want to be for them.  Round and round, only the bumps of those few who think that grace is pure weakness.  Meanness, triviality-laden and sour of spirit, they do and demand and take exactly what they want.

I am tired.  I am worn out doing the right thing.  I am not giving up, not letting go, but I am so damn tired.  Just as I have decided to say 'no' to the dark, the fear and the passive, I am saying 'yes' to grace.

I am staying on the high road.  I earned the right to be here.

That said, yesterday was not horrible, and I mean that in the nicest way.  Coffee with friends turned into breakfast.  A splurge, yes, but in that moment I was so weary of watching every single penny and I perused, ordered, ate and was satisfied.  It was a very nice time, oh, but ordinary life stuff seems, well, it seems trivial and selfish and entitled, and I know that none of it is any of those things. 

The things that interest my friends never bothered me before.  They all travel and shop and go to the movies, see plays and concerts.  All of that, except for a movie or two a year, have always been out of my budget.  My traveling consisted of a couple of senior bus trips.  My shopping is the charity shops and hanging out and watching my friends shop, which sometimes included a side trip for lunch.  I never had the money for a social life, and when I did break out and do something, like those bus trips, there was always hell to pay when I planned them and when I returned.

I am trying to avoid feeling envy.  I think myself to be a good and true friend and good and true friends rejoice at their friends' good fortune.  I can rejoice with the best, so I do.  It is just that even though I was a more joyful rejoicer before, I have to try a bit harder now.  So, I am having trouble figuring out why I keep feeling these little twinges of envy.  Not only for the trips and all that, but for having an ordinary, less fearful life than mine. 

When I was still in my other life, I did not feel even the teeniest smidgen of envy or jealousy about anything.  Now I do.  It makes me feel small and mean-spirited.  I hate it.  I struggle.  Lordy.

Time at my daughter's was divine, as always.  There is not anything better than little boys who run to fetch one another, yelling "grammy's here...grammy's here...grammy's here!"  Or a son-in-law who stops lawning (what the boys call mowing the grass) to give me a hug and a daughter who throws her arms around me for hugs and kisses.  Because, you know, your baby is always your baby, even if she grows to be taller than you.

She loved her Ottlite, which she can use for her sewing and crafts, but mostly for when she studies at home.  She has been using the chandelier light at the dining room table, and that set-up certainly worked, but it was a strain on her eyes.  Now she has this full-spectrum light with a base that will hold all of her study stuff as until she finishes her degree and can be used to hold the craft and painting tools she needs.  I was ecstatic when I found it on sale and I think she really likes it, too.

She and the boys filled a basket with some beauty stuff I would never buy and I love them.  There was also some reduction sauce for meat and, best of all, a large bar of Godiva.  And, oh, as for the beauty items, my son-in-law shopped for them the last time he was in England, and included a large tin of tea, which the shop folk told him was the Queen's favorite.  And, he added, "See says hearty breakfast.  Who doesn't like breakfast?"  He says things like this to me all of the time, with a straight face and it just cracks me up.

My daughter received one of her favorite presents.  Lego.  Yeah, those little stacking blocks that you can assemble into anything.  Anything.  She gets a set for nearly every occasion.  When I left, she and all the boys were at the table, sorting out blocks and instructions and having a great time.  Lego time is something they do several times each week, as it is an intimate activity that is tons of fun and brings them even closer together.

It was a nice day and I am pretty sure that I did not offend anyone.  I just never know what is going to escape my filters and drop into conversation.  I really was tired.  I got drive-through food, greasy and delicious on the way home.  Played with CoolCat and fell asleep on the sofa.  I woke twelve hours later.  Fell asleep an hour later, for another four hours.  I have been up since then and since I have an appointment with my doctor in the morning, it will soon be antihistamines, zombii book, and bed soon.  

Tiring, but it was a day full of grace, mostly unintentional, the natural kind that flows from one heart to another.  Today, alone, was not half bad, either.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Last week I was given an assignment to say "no" once each day.  I must have looked like I was going to pass out, because the task was reduced to twice during the week.  I think that everyone in group must have had the same expression and I could see that the relief was universal, once I managed to resume breathing.

We were asked to report on how the process went for us and, true to form, I had completely forgotten to make that an option.  Or, maybe it was an unconscious defense mechanism.

Anyway, I had no trouble remembering several situations when it would have been in my best interest to decline.  It really is all about being nice and polite, about having manners and not being a selfish jerk.  I always think about the Big Bang Theory episode when the Bernadette character is being bothered by one of the men, he having misunderstood her nice behavior towards him, and she yells back "I'm nice to everyone!!!!!"

That is me, and practically everyone else I know, I am nice to everyone.  It is a great way to navigate the world in which I live.  I do not want to change that part of me.  I have no intention of doing so...ever.  But, you know, it means that I often do something or agree to something or get involved in some time-sucking project only because I cannot say that I am not interested in having my time sucked.

The problem is not so much being able to decline to participate in something, but that most of the people asking for whatever they want from you are doing so because they know that you never say 'no' or are unable to do so.  Frankly, that is exploitation, no matter how you gussie it up.  Sometimes someone is trying to take advantage of your time or resources, sometimes they simply do not know who else to ask and most often, I am thinking, they have no ulterior motives of the dastardly kind.

I pretty much hate going anyplace.  In my other life, getting out was a lifesaver on so many levels.  Now that I am out of there, being home alone is my favorite thing to do, my ultimate place to be.  Please do not drop in.  Pretty please do not call me.  Oh, help me, I am begging you, do not ask me to leave and do something.

When I first left, I was in hiding and, months later, when I had moved into this flat, all I wanted was to hunker down and stay unnoticed.  I still did, and continue to go out for working and all of the other volunteer stuff.  Laundry and grocery shopping have to be done.  There are the rare appointments and more rare outings with friends.  I have managed to organize and coordinate everything so that I have full, ten-hour days on two days of the week, a 3/4 day on one other, and four days with no responsibilities other than getting up late, random eating, napping and playing mah jong.  If I am feeling particularly energetic, I may read a book or two.

I need that down time to recover from being out and needing to be extraordinarily social and focused for my clients.  As a shy person, this is difficult.  It is exhausting.  No one cares about that, and I really do not have much invested in it either.  It is what it is.

What I am particularly reluctant to do is travel long distances, which I define as more than ten miles.  Yeah, I know.  That means that I have not spent much time traveling to my daughter and her family.  She calls me, I call her, we talk and have nice conversations, but I have stopped offering to come up to see them.  This weekend is Mother's Day, and I understand that she wants to celebrate this together.  When she called and asked me to spend a day with her I accepted, but my heart is not in it.  Totally unacceptable, it is heartless and I am ashamed.  I will go and have a wonderful time.

In addition, I am going to leave early and have coffee with my friends.  I will be out of the house just as long as I am on a working day.  I am going to be flat out beat by the time I get home.

And, whilst is seems as though I am avoiding saying 'no' to these two things, but I realized during this writing that I am really saying 'no' to myself and my reluctance to do something that is difficult.

Doing all of this tomorrow is not a big deal.  It is a new beginning, moving towards not needing to hide.

It occurs to me that this is a result of what happened at work two weeks ago.  The ambush at work, primarily, and an incident that I accepted as an uncomfortable, but random, situation.

On Friday, I learned that three days before that friend of my ex showed up and grilled me, that same ex was served with and signed a new court document, an amendment to the original final decree for our divorce.  I received the notification of this via e-mail, which was followed up by a documentation of the process in a letter from my attorney.

In that letter, she described the negotiations that went on between the ex, his family, their attorney and my attorney.  In it, it stated that he would sign the documents only if "offending language" was deleted.  As best I can determine, that language that offended him was about how he has defied and refused to comply with every other court order. 

This new order is something that I did not want to do.  I have already spent a sickening amount of money on this mess and when my attorney proposed doing this I refused.  She convinced me that it was necessary, and she explained all of it to me, although I have little memory of what she said.  It was too stressful.  However, it seems to have worked.  The order is awaiting signing by a judge.  The documents will then be sent to the financial and investment companies.  Then, maybe something will happen.  I do not believe it.  If, by some miracle, anyone finally complies with anything, well, I cannot commit any energy to belief in that.  I have less of that than I have money.

Two more things happened this week.  The first is that one of the investment people, a woman that was close friends with my ex, sent me papers to sign, authorizing distribution and transfer of what remains in the funds.  I called her and it was clear that she was trying to rush me through the process before the new orders are finished and enforceable.  Oh, and the new orders are that I be reimbursed the entire amount of the money he has already taken from the funds and that the remaining funds be equally divided.  If that happens, it softens the blow of having had to pay income taxes on what he stole. 

The other is that I received a gift in the mail.  Some anonymous person has paid for a cremation for me.  I called the company, which just happens to be in the small town in which my ex lives, and they refused to give me any information, that they do not provide any for gifts.  I asked how often that happens, that someone will gift someone with a cremation and she told me that it is rare, usually something that happens within families and that it was probably done by a family member who wanted to do something nice for me.

Allrighty, except that she does not know that my ex and his sister threatened my life at our final hearing.  I am still sticking with my belief that all of it is random.  The documents issues followed by the rest.  It is that just when you think you have it together, that you get something, the Universe will come along with another learning opportunity to make sure that the lesson has truly been learned. 

This creepy, but coincidental series of events is interesting, but not something that is worrisome, in fact, I find it funny.  I have not spiraled about any of this.  Truth is that I feel strong and am proud that I have not allowed any of this to increase my fears.

I took all of it.  Random or not, connected or coincidental, it has no power over me.  I have been able to discuss and dissect it in therapy.  I shared some of it in group. 

So, even though I forgot about the No assignment, I am saying "no" where it counts.  No to fear.  No to conspiracy.  No to everything that is not in my best interest.

Monday, May 6, 2013


And, grateful for it.  I decided overnight that I can wait until my regular therapy appointment.  Huge sigh of relief.  I do not mind when my therapist wants to schedule an extra session between sessions, and I always agree.  Messed up is messed up and super-duper messed up means that you pay better attention and you do what you have to do. 

Interesting, that part of the process, because that is exactly what I do with my clients.  One of my clients last week had a greater need to talk out some things than to put together a résumé.  There are rare occasions when someone leaves without a usable document, but this person did not.  I let him talk, but kept interjecting queries and, whilst not complete, he was able to leave with the résumé part, should he find an opportunity to apply for a job.  He is homeless and his issues are greater than my ability to help him.  The only reason I am continuing with him is that a social service agency sent him to me. 

I have to hold these kinds of situations in my consciousness more effectively than I have been doing.  The stresses build and the icky stuff superimposes itself over the good and effective.  So, this morning is a nice break from the crazy making.

I woke more energized than usual.  This is probably because I have been stressing about the miserable state I have allowed my personal environment to become.  It is kind of messy here.  Not dirty or disgusting or health department acute, but I have not been putting things in their proper place, especially some things I picked up for the boys. 

Lots of stress, part of which is about CoolCat.  He has many health issues.  A myriad, a cascade, a thunderstorm of health concerns.  One is made worse by the stress he suffered during the time he was not under my care when I was living in the shelter.  As a result of improper and irregular care, he is weird about food and water.  I mean, who can blame him.  By the time I was able to safely return to the house, my cats were a physical and psychic mess. 

Now, he is worried about his food bowl being empty.  If he can see, or think he sees, even a tiny spot of the bottom of his bowl, he panics.  I have to keep the bowl full all the time.  If I do not notice, the moment that speck is exposed, he comes to get me, sadly complaining all the while.  It works well, but if I am sleeping or away from the flat when he can see that bit of the bowl, he stresses and he vomits.  Twice. 

If I am sleeping, it wakes me, I get up, reassure him and clean it up.  If I am away, he often makes it back to my bed before he empties his stomach.  Twice.   All of the floors here are hard surfaced and, frankly, he could vomit every day and we would not cause any damage to the place. It is icky, occasionally makes me shudder, but it is what it is.

That happened, the vomiting on my bed.  Twice.  I cleaned up the mess when I got home the first time and all was well.  The second time I did not notice until it was time for bed.  Two spews and he tried to cover it up, bless him.  Unfortunately, I have only two sheets.  Fortunately, I launder them every week and it was Tuesday, laundromat day.  Clean sheet on the bed, augmented by two towels over the newly cleaned wet spots on the mattress.

Since then I have been putting a plastic, flannel-backed tablecloth over the top of the bed.  And, the sofa and chair. CoolCat hates it.  Too bad.  When I can afford to get more linens and a mattress cover and a couple of throws or cheap blankets to toss over the bed, I will do that.  Slightly more laundry to do when he vomits, but it will be easier to manage.  I will still continue to cover the other two pieces of furniture, and he has a nice, comfy bed and three resting spots on his climbing/scratching post thing, as well as an old office chair that I really do not care about and keep a folded towel on anyway, for napping.  I also have a folded towel on the back of the sofa just because he likes being up there.

So, plenty of place to lounge, although he mostly sleeps when I am gone, only occasionally getting up to check to see if the bottom of his bowl is visible.  He has gained weight because of this, as I fill his bowl to the top before I leave the house.  Bad mom, I know.  In my defense, the alternative, trying to get him to not feel so desperate about food just seems more stressful to him.  He is middle-aged and has been through so much this past year. 

He is a different cat since we moved here.  He was different, more settled and calm even when we were living in the motel.  During my other life, I thought that his shyness was just that, he was a shy cat.  Now that we are here and there is not yelling and all the rest, he has bloomed.  He no longer lives mostly under my bed.  No more litter box accidents.  On the rare occasion when I have a visitor, he comes out to meet them, something he never did in our other life.  He approaches people without urging and solicits petting. 


Wonderful.  Makes me all tender and weepy and so grateful that we have our new life.

The whole covering up everything for the past three weeks is distressing for CoolCat.  Not enough to change him or make him have more events, but he does not like it.  When he comes to me to complain about the tablecloths, I reassure him and let it go.  No point making either of us more neurotic in the process.

So, anyway, I had to go past the bedroom and saw that a portion of the tablecloth was in disarray.  He had climbed up on his carrier (beside the bed at the foot, between the bed and the wall, and then onto the bed, at the edge of the tablecloth.  Burrowed his way in and is now asleep in the little cave he made for himself.

This comforts him and I am tickled at his ingenuity and perseverance.  Nice problem solving. 

I am not as smart as my cat.  Nice. Like it.  Still have to find another way to protect the bed until I can get the stuff to put on it, but what he did is a normal thing that happens in normal homes where there are normal people and pets.  Ordinary.  This is so reassuring.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


My dark side.  Even through the worst of it, there were times when I needed to escape into fantasy.  I used to say that I had a rich fantasy life.  I meant it as a joke.  However, it was true.

Lots of things changed when our daughter was born.  I had to understand, or at least notice, the connection to the return of violence, the greater exercising of control.  All of the new learning how to not get into trouble.  It was so much our normal that the gradual movement back into all of that was virtually unnoticeable.  New baby, new house, my car sold, small and quiet countryside, isolation. 

It is so easy to look back and see that those things were happening.  Well, not so easy, as it is a process directly related to therapy and a lot of really hard and really painful work.  In the beginning of the mess I was in complete denial.  All I knew was that I was wrong and always doing the wrong things and that I was going to die there.  Thinking about that, death, and writing about it makes me feel weird, sort of spaced or something.  It feels unreal.  The further away I get from that day, and the years preceding that day, the less real it seems.  It makes me feel, sometimes, that I must have misunderstood or misinterpreted everything, that it is just another aspect of my being wrong. 

So, O.K., I know that is only what I was groomed to believe.  I heard it for the first six or seven years of our marriage, and it began again after our daughter was born.  Then, there were two of us doing everything wrong.  Greater isolation.  So, I did what made me feel better, and that was to have fantasies that I kept going as long as they worked.  Most of the time it was the only way I could go to sleep.  They evolved into elaborate scenarios where I was liked and then loved.  I had friends and eventually there was this kind of hopeful quality to them.  Like there was a world where I was fine.  Were I was loved.  Where no one tried to hurt me all the time, and if, by some chance, someone had bad intentions for me I would be rescued by someone who loved me.

The fantasies were so well-developed that I could get lost in them and finally fall asleep.  I got really good at crafting them.  Unfortunately, it was a private and secret activity and I felt ashamed of having them, that I was unable to see the goodness and value in my marriage.  Well, now I know why I had them and how they probably helped me get through some tough times.  Sometimes the longing for a safe and loving life was so distressing that they made me cry, and that is pretty much when they stopped.  It was dangerous to cry. Even more shame.  You know, like shame on me for being so shallow and weak and needy.  After all, I had a husband that everyone loved.  He had a great job and lots of friends, the neighbors loved him.  He made good money and took excellent care of his family.  No one knew him at church or school, but that was only because he was such a dedicated provider.  Well, that, and the endless excuses I made for him not coming to anything.  He refused to be involved in anything that did not have him at the center of attention and told me what lies to tell. 

So, O.K., I know how this was, now I know.  In the moments of that other life, I only knew that I did not deserve the goodness of a loving relationship.  I did not deserve to be loved.  I was unlovable.  The problem now is that even if I used to be someone worth care and liking and even loving, that person is gone someplace.  Maybe she is a much a fantasy as the ones I made up all those lonely and scared nights.

I know that I have to find a way to believe otherwise.  If I cannot do that, if I cannot find a way back to that kind of health, then I will always be alone.  Now that I am out of there I do not feel lonely.  I have my jobs and my family and the friends worth keeping and CoolCat.  I have enough money to just make it and my hopes for finding a job continue.  I know that I do excellent work, that I would be an asset to any company and that whomever hires me will never regret it.  I have complete confidence that I will eventually find a job and that many parts of my life will be better with just a little extra money.

Where this becomes a problem is that everything I see, you know, DVD-wise, and everything I read has that hopeful aspect of fantasy as a problem solver.  A perfect example is the book I finished reading last night.  It is Piers Anthony's, Luck of The Draw.  It was an on-my-way-out of the library grab.  I was tired from a long day and had nothing at home to read.  I had read some of the Xanth books a long time ago and enjoyed them.  Last year a friend got me started reading Terry Pratchett, and the themes of the two authors are similar enough to lead you from one to the other.  They are fun, those books. 

It was lots of fun.  Until the end, which was an angst ridden star-crossed lovers plot, something that had been a thread through most of the story.  The same thing is happening in the DVDs I have been watching.  I think what bothers me is the power that one character seems to hold over another.  The notion that I am so important that I can solve the problem, just because I am that important.  I am the catalyst for saving or helping or something, but mostly saving someone else or an aspect of society or the world or some damn thing.  I mean, it really is that big, the ego that gives one person, or, I guess a group of people, to be so important that only they can save the day.  If you are the center of the universe, I suppose you are exactly that important. 

But, it is all fiction, all constructed and imagined and fantasized fiction.  There is not any place in the world where someone could be that important, that pivotal, that essential to anything. 

And, it disturbed me.  It was just as ego-driven as my fantasies had been.  The whole context of being so special that someone would have to be insane to let you slip through their fingers, no matter how many obstacles they had to overcome.  The archetypal relationship plot.  It did not start with popular fiction or film.  The beginnings of these stories is lost in antiquity. 

It occurs to me that when my daughter read Romeo and Juliet when she was six years old, that there does not seem to be any age when that need for unreserved and unconditional love is not one of the basic desires.  Newborn infants instinctively crave it.  That need is why we have pets.

I should probably do some reading on the whole ego thing.  What little I have picked up is just enough to be familiar with it, but lacking in real knowledge and understanding.  Maybe I should leave it alone, but right now I feel weak when I think of the past and how I wanted someplace without pain.  I wanted some life without feeling that I was always wrong.  More, I wanted and want to let go of the pain so that I can make good decisions, better choices, in my life from now on.  I cannot go back and undo all of the mistakes I have made, all of the times when I did not, could not, be the kind of person I wanted to be, the times when I only responded to what was going on, reactive and rarely, if ever, proactive.  Loving and supportive and just making good decisions.  That is what I want.

And, I know why all of this is bothering me.  I have the opportunity to receive training, some of it on scholarship, to do something along the path of the work I already do, but this opportunity is a paid position.  The job and training were suggested to me by someone I trust.  The training and testing would be conducted in another city and there is a chance that I would move there for employment.  It is a solid opportunity.  I am interested.  I would be insane to let this slip through my fingers.  I have the application and was going to complete it this weekend and mail all of the materials tomorrow.

I have not yet begun any of it.  I am worried that I will disappoint the providers of the scholarship.  I am worried that I will be too stupid to understand the training or learn anything.  I am worried that it will be too difficult and that I will be embarrassed and shamed by attempting something outside my previous experience.  I am worried about spending my time and money to do this, not having any financial security because of the mess of leaving my other life.  I am worried that I simply am not good enough. 

Worrying about all of those are supremely reasonable concerns.  Although, it is interesting that the worries are manifesting what seems to be a completely different part of my life.  I see the connections, tenuous as they may be, but it sure is interesting.  This is about ego.  My darker side.   My need to be loved and accepted unconditionally.  The need to be successful and needed and valued beyond my abilities and ability to be successful at any of this, hell, at anything. 

And, there is another part that is about not being good at anything, no matter how much I try.  I failed at my marriage.  I failed to be the person he wanted me to be, the person who did not do everything wrong.  I understand that his expectations and need for control were beyond my ability to perform properly and that they were inappropriate and dangerous and I am so fortunate to be out of my other life.  I know that feeling like this is fucked up and that I still have more healing to do.  Man, I am working so hard on all of this.  I make all kinds of wonderful progress and then something like Wednesday happens and I regress.  I received some information on Friday that may indicate the encounter at work was not as random as I had hoped.  Knowing that is not helping.

All of the old fears and insecurities come rushing back.  So much work and healing to do.  I do not know if I can wait until my regular therapy session.  I need to discuss this sooner.  I need to not be knocked-back by this.  I need to stop over-thinking everything.

I need to be willing to take some risks.  I have led such a careful life for so long and being brave is more difficult than I can express.  I need to be brave. 

You know, the center of the Universe aspect.  Who would not love to be the center of someone's Universe.  I know that my daughter is that person for me, and that her husband and children are those people for her, just as it is for everyone who loves someone, cares about them and supports them no matter how tough the going gets.  Surely, all of the people that I know and see, hear and read about, who seem to have that cannot all be faking it. 

Friday, May 3, 2013


Apparently I was not as settled about what happened at work as I though.  I talked about it at therapy and then later in group.  I received excellent feedback about more effective ways to handle similar things.  Lordy.  I know that all of this is going well, and I am looking forward to my last day of therapy. 

There is more help in my future because even when I arrive at a good place regarding all of the mess,  I have come to understand and appreciate the value of excellent therapy as a tool for improving many aspects of my life.  Perhaps this is not for everyone, I am fairly sure of that, but the process has drifting into other life issues and has been helpful and healing and has improved how I address and handle so many other things.  It has been particularly informative in helping my clients.  It has been a great help in moving towards calm and being more grounded, less rattled by all of the challenges life brings.  And, we all have days when it is a relief to come through the day relatively unscathed.  Yeah.

The experiences of the past two years have brought me here.  Well, way longer than that, but those last years, but this recent period has been the catalyst for many things, like divesting myself of friends that really are not the kind of friends any of us would like or should have in our lives.

That separating from people who are not helpful to have a friends is so difficult.  Being around her means that prying sad stuff from you so that she can share the gossip with her 'real' friends.  Get smarter.  Get rid of her.  Talking on the phone with him is an frustration and a time waster whilst he rants about all of his problems and how his boss is screwing him over and his mother is smothering and his kids are ungrateful brats.  Get off the phone and he feels much better for spewing and you now carry the burden of his crap.  Get rid of him.

So, I have done that, taken a serious look at some of my relationships and found that either I was unable to continue to be the friend that someone needed me to be, or that having that other person as part of my life is simply not healthy for me.  Because of my life circumstances I had may acquaintances, but few close friends.  It is not possible to have a life that needs to be kept secret and have truly intimate friendships. 

And, I digress a bit, but it needs to be said that the secrets were not only the things that happened to me, but include all of the millions of ways that I behaved and thought that were not representative of the person I could have been, wanted to be, should have tried harder to be. It is extraordinarily painful to be in the closet about who you are and not be able or willing to be your true self.  As a result of my marriage I behaved in ways that did not serve anyone and manifested all kinds of things that shamed me then and continue to shame me now.  I never did anything bad, but I, only on way too infrequent occasions, did not manifest my true self, the person that I wanted to and knew I should be, that person deep in here, my center, the ideal me.  I am trying to make sure that that happens more now.  I try every day to be that idealized person.  She has been in that deep place too often and is out to play whenever she likes.  She lives beside me now, instead of in the dark.

So, therapy good, fire bad.  Oh, and it sometimes bothers me to be using all kinds of psycho-babble language, but I have come to accept that there are moments when only those words will do, properly express how I am processing (ah...) and working through stuff. 

Back to Wednesday and my ex's friend.  He was my ex's friend, not mine, although I knew him and his wife.  He worked with my ex and one of their outside of work activities is that they had a card club, where they would take turns meeting at each other's homes on Saturdays to play cards, drink refreshing beverages and have their wives create fancy meals, serve, clean up and make a big deal about some even fancier dessert.  Their daughter would babysit for our daughter and because we lived in the same neighborhood would often walk over and hang out.  Even so, he and his wife were never my friends, mostly because they were my ex's friends and he did not like sharing.  Not insisting on him sharing kept me safer. 

It was what it was, and it was like that for every friend and co-worker and acquaintance that he had.  I used to believe that I was not worth knowing and that he was ashamed of me and did not want to impose my presence on his friends.  I think now that it was a way to keep the secrets of our dynamics, and assure that I would never let anything slip.  Yeah.  That.

I remember once, when our daughter was a toddler, he reluctantly brought us along to one of his baseball games.  It had to do with us having only one car and that some important thing had to be done or picked up in the big city where he played ball and there would not be time after the game for him to come home and then take me back for the thing. 

We arrived at the game and I asked where the other family members were sitting.  He gestured and I went there.  We climbed up on the bleachers and I said hellos to the women and their children sitting there and they just stared at me.  Two of them looked at each other, meaningful glances ensued, and after a couple more attempts to talk to them, continued silence from them, my daughter and I moved.  On the way home I told him about what happened and he would not reply either.  Once again, it was a reinforcement of how I was flawed, not worthy of being with normal people.  I have no proof, but it is most likely like the whole friend thing.  The exact same thing happened over and over and I always knew that it was because there was something wrong with me, something un-fixable.

When he retired, he was forced to take me to a small dinner with some of his work friends and their wives.  At the time of the invitation I did not know that he could not find a way to go without me, and it surprised me and since I had a marriage-lifetime of uncomfortable social context involving him, I declined, offering illness as an excuse.  Possible because he made the request a few hours before we were supposed to meet the others.  He became angry and insisted that I go, so I did.  It was only when we were there that the conversation informed me that they were pleased that I agreed to come, having declined so many other chances to get together for so many years.  Decades.  What?  Anyway, I mentioned the retirement party that I was having for him and his friends, coworkers and family and hoped to see them there, too.

I recovered and played along and played nice and I am pretty sure that my shame and new and painful understanding about all of that did now show.  Writing this, I am experiencing all of that humiliation and pain and those feelings of betrayal all over again. 

Near the end of the meal, one of the wives said that, now that I was less busy in my life (meaning that I was there finally) that she would see me at my ex's retirement party the next night.  I said that I would do my best, as it was an important event and I was looking forward to it.  On the drive home, he was angry and told me that I was not invited.  I replied that I had told the others that I would be there, so I probably should be there.  I asked where it was, he gave me the location and the next evening, after work, I drove to the restaurant where the party was being held. 

It was a residential neighborhood, no businesses anywhere.  I figured that in his distress about me being there that he made a mistake.  I drove around the area for over an hour, looking for anyplace even remotely resembling a restaurant or tavern, stopped in and looked inside at a few and finally gave up, grabbed a drive-through hamburger and went home.  When he arrived home he walked right past me and I asked how the party was.  He smiled and said it was great, one of the best parties ever.  I am a very slow learner.

The smiles.  What is that all about?  I know that a smile can cover all sorts of emotions, confusion, being uncomfortable, embarrassment, pain, suffering, lots of things.  I remember all of those smiles he sent my way, and what they meant.  And, then on Wednesday, that friend of his smiling that huge smile at me.  It was not because we were close buddies and he had not seen me in a long time.  I can only guess what that meant.  But, the smiling is so distressing.  It is like the seduction before the attack, the mesmerizing movements of the viper just before the strike. 

I have to wonder what there is about me, what perception or vulnerability or availability I send out to people, what quality, what aspect of weakness I offer that informs some people that they can say anything, do anything they like to me.  What is it that I do that seems to make it possible for that?  Do I invite it?  All I was doing was being polite.  One of the women in group yesterday said that one of the reasons I stood there and took it was that I was in my work place.  It is a volunteer position, but it is serious work that I do there.  I am a respectable person, who receives respect whilst I am there.  I show respect to everyone with whom I work, everyone who enters the place.  Another woman said that I was being nice to someone who did not deserve it.  But, I am nice to everyone.  A third woman said to me something like, so, you are responsible for his bad behavior.  Of course not.

But, there is an aspect about working with and being with people that does come with some responsibility.  Other people can do or say or behave in any manner they like.  No problem.  My response is what I do or say or how I behave, and I do have a responsibility to not respond to bad behavior by being a bad person myself.  I have a strong responsibility to respond in a way that does not further the original bad behavior.  I have a responsibility to respond in, at the very least, a neutral manner.  Responding in kind to bad actors does nothing to solve anything, nothing to further the dialogue in a productive way.

Still, I absolutely have to practice more, be ready to respond and be more self-protective if something like this happens again.  It is unlikely because I have never known anyone in his life beyond his family.  The chances of anyone else recognizing me are minute, and I surely would not recognize any of those people myself.

So much to think about whilst I straighten up around here.  My house refuses to clean itself, so I have to help. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Today is:
May Day
Loyalty Day
Mother Goose Day
Save the Rhino Day

It is also:
Stoopid Unprepared Idiot Who Gets Ambushed At Work By A Friend Of Someone Who Is Not Me Day

Try to put that on a greeting card.  Do not bother.  No one is interested.

I thought that I was prepared for just about anything, but I am not.  One of his friends did a real ambush on me today.  Scared my big girl panties right off.  He saw me, rushed after me and asked if he could ask me a personal question.

My reply was, "Well, O.K."  Stoopidstoopidstoopidstoopid.  I know better.  My response should have been "Thank you, but no." with me continuing to walk to where I could be out of the public areas.  Instead I tried to be polite, knowing that it was sure to be something about my former husband.  It was.  I replied that I do not talk about him, turned and began to walk away.  He persisted and instead of just leaving the area, I replied back that I absolutely do not talk about him.  He continued to ask very personal questions that are fully indicative of him having recently talked to my former husband. 

I finally backed away and he stood there smiling at me.  I have to wonder if it was something that they planned or was just a random, happified opportunity for him.  Either way, I was shaken and shaking.  I frakking know better than to respond, know to demur and walk away, absolutely know to seek help if I need it.  I did eventually mention it to security and was scolded for not fetching them right away.  I deserved it, the scolding and more.  If nothing else, I will be more prepared for the next time. 

In my defense, there have not been any attempts at personal contact from my former husband or anyone connected with him since last August.  I must have drifted into some kind of inappropriate feelings of safety.  I am not saying, or believing that I was in physical danger, after all, we were in a busy public area.  But, however the encounter happened, there was a definable measure of malicious intent and it is unsettling that anyone can think that doing that sort of thing to me is in any measure all right to do.

Truth is, all other people have is what the ex has shared with them, and given the questions I was asked today, the story he is sharing is inaccurate and pretty damning to me.  It is my own fault, my refusal to go public with the truth.  Today confirms my suspicions that his story is how I stole from him, neglected his needs and was disloyal, as in cheating.  I am feeling so demoralized, and I have only myself to blame.  Had I not tried to be polite, I would not have any idea of anything he has said about me. 

I am not surprised, but knowing this now is doing nothing to improve the quality of my life.  And, I have to worry about other people doing the same.  I am probably over thinking this, but now, hours later, much calmer, that guy's smiling feels creepy.  It as though my discomfort and fear created some measure of pleasure for him.  I am letting that go and am refusing to invest this much thought and wondering and energy into today.  I am beyond the point where this stuff destroys my peace of mind.  I was able to manifest that at this week's teleconference. 

Am stronger than I was and I just have to keep moving forward to that life I want. 

At the very least, if such a thing should happen again I will not exactly what to say.

Thank you, but no.

To help balance the day, two people not connected with this place where I work said some really nice things to me.  One was a professional person who told me that the time he spends working with his clients here is made more pleasant on the days when I am here, too.  He said that I am a light that comforts him and makes his work easier.  I am not exactly sure how to take that, much less understand it, but it was nice and I am just going to take it.

A client today told me that he has never had anyone help me as well as the work we did together today.  Awkward, but that is what he shared.  A second client came for a redo of her résumé, and expressed her pain over what had been prepared for her by someone else.  She told me that she was no longer ashamed to give her résumé to anyone.  Nice.

As I was returning to my little bat cave here, another former client stopped and told me that it always helps her when we just talk.    All in all, a day with more positives and more positive energy than the other.  I can totally settle for that.